New York City government is leading by example through its efforts to achieve the ambitious PlaNYC goal of reducing municipal greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 30% by 2017 (30x17).

What is it?

Implementation of a long-term comprehensive plan to reduce municipal GHG emissions from several different sectors of government operations

How does it work?

Existing Buildings 

Prioritization of Building Efficiency Opportunities - The City is implementing an integrated, data-driven greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction strategy for existing buildings that includes energy audits, retrofits, improved operations and maintenance, retro-commissioning and ongoing data analysis. Through this strategy the City projects that it will reduce its GHG footprint by at least 57%. Benchmarking building energy performance supports this effort by helping the City target the best opportunities for GHG reductions in City-owned and -operated buildings, track energy efficiency progress over time, and provide important feedback to agencies’ planning teams, budget groups, and facility staff. Benchmarking results are reported annually for over 2,700 City buildings that are more than 10,000 gross square feet which are owned by the City or for which the City pays all or part of the annual energy bill. In 2010, 51.4% of NYC municipal buildings performed at or above national average energy efficiency.

Energy Audits and Retrofits - A large portion (45%) of the target reductions in GHG emissions from City government operations is expected to come from retrofitting existing City buildings to be more energy efficient through replacement of equipment with more efficient models. The City owns and operates over 4,000 buildings, ranging from schools to recreation centers and from fire houses to iconic office buildings. The average age of these buildings is about 60 years; therefore there are many opportunities to upgrade inefficient lighting, heating, cooling, and ventilation (HVAC) systems with newer, more efficient ones.

The City’s audit and retrofit program identifies and implements energy conservation measures at the City's existing buildings over 50,000 sq. ft. to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Audits follow ASHRAE Level II energy audit guidelines and include an assessment of electrical, HVAC, and building envelope systems to identify feasible energy retrofits and clean energy installations. The audit report assesses annual energy savings, implementation cost, and simple payback for each retrofit measure. The City uses these recommendations to determine which ECMs will be implemented for each building. As of Spring 2012, 142 energy efficiency retrofits have been completed at City buildings and 99 projects are in design or construction at City buildings.

Operations & Maintenance - Improving the operations and maintenance (O&M) of the City's buildings is estimated to reduce GHG emissions by approximately 12% of the GHG emission reductions necessary to reach the City's 30x17 goal. Operations and maintenance practices are the day-to-day activities of a building's engineer or operator to keep a building operating effectively and keep building users comfortable and safe. Energy efficient O&M practices include monitoring energy use, adjusting and properly maintaining equipment, and operating the building's lighting, heating, ventilating, and air conditioning, and other mechanical systems. An efficiently-operated building will meet its occupants' needs using the least amount of energy required.

The City is implementing an energy efficiency operations and maintenance plan that focuses on three main objectives:

  • Repairing, maintaining, and operating existing equipment efficiently
  • Increasing training and outreach to improve skills and raise awareness
  • Providing management oversight, accountability, and transparency.

Training and Outreach - In partnership with the Building Performance Lab at the City University of New York and the Association of Energy Engineers, the City offers energy management training programs for its employees to develop the skills necessary for the energy efficient operations and maintenance of municipal buildings. As of Spring 2012, 990 building operators have been trained in energy efficient facility operations.

The outreach strategy to influence the energy conservation behavior and building operation practices of the nearly 300,000 City employees and facilities staff includes:

  • Interagency coordination and sharing of best practices
  • Monthly newsletters
  • Annual 30x17 update
  • Annual Energy Team meeting
  • O&M recognition ceremony
  • Distribution of light switch stickers and other outreach materials
  • Energy conservation competitions
  • Funding agency outreach campaigns and events
  • Employee orientation energy conservation video
  • Interactive website (

Clean Distributed Generation- The City is pursuing a variety of clean distributed generation (Clean DG) technologies. Clean DG is on-site energy generation that uses clean or renewable fuel sources to produce electricity and, in some cases, steam or hot water. Clean DG includes reciprocating engines, micro-turbines and fuel cells as well as solar photovoltaic (PV), solar thermal, wind, and biomass technologies.

Cogeneration or Combined Heat and Power (CHP) is the combined production of thermal and electric energy. Heat created in the electricity generation process is used for steam, domestic hot water, and other on-site thermal needs. In addition to improving a building's energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, CHP technologies help alleviate grid constraints, lower energy costs, and provide operational independence. The City has several CHP projects completed and underway:

  • A 5 MW cogeneration plant, a fleet of micro-turbines and a fuel cell are in operation at the Bronx Zoo. 
  • Fuel cells have been installed at Coney Island Aquarium, the Central Park Police Precinct, and several wastewater treatment plants. 
  • A 15 MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant at Rikers Island is in construction. 
  • A 325 kW CHP plant at the new Police Academy is in design. With an estimated cost of $1.2 million and annual savings of $205,000, the project is expected to pay for itself in less than six years. 
  • A 10 MW cogeneration plant at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant, where cogeneration was found by a federally-funded investment-grade study to have significant environmental, economic and operational benefits, is in design.

The City is also advancing a range of cost-effective renewable energy applications and emerging technologies to harness solar, wind, and biomass sources. These projects include:

  • Third-party ownership and installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on City buildings through a power purchase agreement (PPA). 
  • Rooftop solar PV systems federally-funded through the State Energy Program at three police precincts, three garages, and two firehouses. 
  • Solar PV systems at the Bronx High School of Science, Brooklyn Children's Museum, Queens Botanical Garden, and New York Hall of Science. 
  • Solar hot water systems at various firehouses and one recreation center.

Wastewater Treatment Plants Wastewater treatment plant projects are the second largest opportunity for GHG reductions in the City, accounting for approximately 17% of the total reduction potential. Wastewater treatment plants decontaminate sewage and storm water runoff through a series of physical, chemical, and biological processes, and release the water back into the environment once it has been cleaned. These processes generate significant amounts of methane gas, one of the strongest GHG emissions sources. Projects underway include fixing methane gas leaks, using recaptured methane to power electric generation equipment, and making general efficiency improvements to other specialized equipment.

Vehicle Fleet - The City maintains one of the largest municipal fleets in the country at approximately 26,000 vehicles, including a variety of hybrid and alternative fuel vehicles. The City is greening its fleet by accelerating the purchase of more fuel-efficient vehicles, mandating the use of biodiesel, adopting best practices to economize vehicle miles traveled, improving vehicular deployment and fleet reduction programs.

Street Lighting - The City has achieved significant energy reductions from streetlights by installing 250,000 lower watt fixtures throughout the five boroughs. As a result, streetlight energy consumption has decreased by more than 25 percent since FY 2006, while providing the level of lighting necessary to ensure safety and security. In turn, these reductions have led to the total avoidance of more than 40,000 MgCO2e since 2007. Over $65 million has been invested in this project and the City is expecting full payback in less than five years.

CO2 reduction

30% annual reduction from 2006 base year

Next steps

The City’s data-driven approach to reaching its 30x17 target is based on several strategic actions. First, the City is using its benchmark results and other data sources to prioritize energy efficiency projects and monitor building performance over time. Another major piece of the strategy and a component of the City’s landmark energy efficiency legislative package -- the Greener, Greater Buildings Plan -- is the implementation of energy audits and cost-effective retrofit measures as well as the identification of clean DG opportunities. Next, these retrofit efforts are tied to improved operations and maintenance as well as retro-commissioning. Finally, the City analyzes the energy performance results regularly. Future year-to-year analyses against benchmark baseline scores will allow the City to identify the impact that factors such as efficiency investments, building management and occupant behavior have on energy use. DCAS will conduct further analyses and will proceed with data quality improvements, including sub-metering and an energy and property tracking system, over the course of the next several years.

The City also continues to invest in methane reduction at wastewater treatment plants, greening of its vehicle fleet, and converting to energy-efficient street lighting.


Department of Citywide Administrative Services
Division of Energy Management
Ariella Maron
Chief Energy Management Officer
Tel. +001 1 (212) 386-0230